The role of an artist in the community and even in the world at large is to act as a mirror on humanity. Thanks to the keen eyes and listening skills of visual artists, they often spot patterns and traits that might otherwise go unnoticed.
“Corrie Slawson: In danger”, on view at Studio M at the Musée Massillon until January 3, is an exhibition that presents some of the artist’s most recent research. The work explores landscapes “both dystopian and bizarre, with ongoing narratives linked to social and environmental issues”.
Slawson’s work refers to the “places” she sees through topics such as development, population loss, land use, climate change, and environmental equity. While the subject is very serious, the work is colorful and expressive and not without humor.
The exhibition presents several small collages as well as prints on paper. There are also two large paintings on plywood and a large tapestry. Due to the vibrant color palette used, the exhibit gives a sense of immersion even though all the work is individual and not part of one large installation piece.
“Stegosaurus Is Extinct; Charcuterie Is Fashionable” is a large oil and mixed media work on plywood. It features a painting of a Stegosaurus at one end of the composition and as your eye moves left to right you find yourself looking at several pasted depictions of floral images and jewelry that end with bare, unpainted parts of it. the plywood surface which are embedded in a pattern similar to a white diamond mesh and more jewelry and floral elements.
The artwork is full of movement and color and makes you wonder what you are looking at. The painting of the Stegosaurus makes the entire work more transportable and highlights the artist’s sense of humor or, at the very least, his joy in creating it.
“Blue Footed Boobies Are Endangered; Harlequin Toad, Now Extinct. Rabbit Is Distraught” is another great oil and mixed media on plywood. In this work, seabirds dominate the upper left corner of the composition. Toad images are featured in the lower corners of the painting with a slightly oversized image of a toad painted in bright orange to the right.
Floral and vegetal images are incorporated throughout the painting in colors ranging from green to orange and red. There are also underlying black and white images of organic elements with a small depiction of a ‘clueless’ rabbit that is slightly difficult to find in the lower central part of the composition.
This is certainly the type of work where the title of the piece leads you to research different elements for a better understanding. It also acts as a portal to allow you to engage more with the sense of the room.
Many collage works feature an endangered or extinct animal contrasting with a contemporary element such as jewelry or clothing.
In “Black Rhino”, a collage and lithograph, an image of a black rhino sits over a patterned background in black and gray. The rhino features red-on-white and blue-on-white patterns similar to what you might find on ceramics or fancy textiles. Next to these items is a stack of diamond rings.
The artist directly questions the value of these material goods in contrast to the life of this critically endangered animal from East and Southern Africa. Indeed, questioning the values that lead to the lack of things and the impact of this type of behavior on the planet is essential to understand Slawson’s work.
“Corrie Slawson: Endangered” is an exhibition that features the current research of a skilled artist who resides in Northeast Ohio. It is also an exhibition that offers us an intimate setting with works of art that we might not otherwise have.
There is no barrier here like the one you often find inside a traditional museum. Instead, we are faced with the work in progress and we are asked to engage and understand it while still leaving us the space to do so. This is not to be taken lightly and the fact that the Massillon Museum offers this type of interaction and interface should be applauded and supported for the precious part of the region that it is.
What: “Corrie Slawson: Endangered”
Or: Studio M at the Massillon Museum, 121 Lincoln Way E., Massillon
When: Until January 3
Admission: To free